A new documentary, titled "The Woodmans," sets out to explicate, if not explain, the life and early death of one of the 20th-century's most enigmatic and haunting photographers. Francesca Woodman came from a family of artists: her mother is the successful ceramicist Betty Woodman, her father is an abstract painter named George Woodman, and her older brother, George, is a video artist. Francesca grew up in a household where art, it seems, was prized above all else. She picked up a camera early, and was immediately possessed by the need to create photographic images.
While the documentary shows many of its subject's images, it doesn't look much at her technique or her involvement with the New York art world of the late 1970s and early 1980s---the rejection from which may have contributed to her suicide. Rather it concentrates on her family, her place in it, and the effect of success and failure on an artist. And like any good documentary, it raises more questions than it answers, while providing a glimpse into the work and life of a fascinating artist.